Posted in Nostalgia Lane

Gabriel Knight 2: Grace is totally into death

(This is part of my journey playing through Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)

a1Chapter Four begins and we’re back in the shoes of the intense, driven Grace Nakimura.  Whose life will she ruin today?  I can hardly wait to find out!

a2It’s nighttime and a full moon (because werewolves), and Grace is having a nightmare involving being chased by wolves while wearing a white dress that’s like 40 feet long.  It’s the Rapunzel of dresses, let me tell you.  When she gets to a sleigh, the driver turns into a werewolf and then Grace does that thing where the hero wakes up from a bad dream and sits straight up in bed.  You know, that thing nobody ever does.

a3What to do after a nightmare?  Why, do some light historical reading on Ludwig II, the fairytale prince.  This biography mentions the king’s late obsession with a guy named Louis, who also was into “sensual” stuff.  So he made a wolfie pal and… what?  Got turned into a werewolf himself?  I’m still not seeing all of the connections between the current story and the investigation into the past here.

Grace goes down to the post office and starts grinning like a little girl when she sees that she’s gotten a letter from Gabe.  A love letter?  Oh, please!  Actually, no… it’s more work, but that’s just as good from Grace’s perspective.  Gabe asks her to do some looking into Ludwig II, so I guess we’re off to a good start for the day.

a4At the hotel restaurant, Grace bumps into the weirdo Smiths again and chats them up.  All I want to know is how much product that lady uses in her hair, but that’s not one of the dialogue options.

What they do talk about is how they see themselves as “warriors of the light” who fight against the forces of darkness.  In what I see as a bit of hypocrisy, these hardcore Christians are also into Tarot readings, and they offer to do a reading for Grace.  She gets “the Empress” and Gabe gets “the Magician.”  Mrs. Smith warns Grace of an upcoming trial and that she must use the power of her love to get them through it.  Grace starts sputtering about how she and Gabe aren’t… I mean… you’ve got the wrong idea

Oh Grace, only hypocrites can sit at this table.

a5Because Grace just cannot have a normal day at all, her next stop is back at the church crypt where she sees Gerde mourning over the previous chuckyeager (or whatever, I’m tired of looking the spelling up).  “Oh hey Gerde!  You’re into death too?  Awesome!”

a6Well, Ms. Dense Head finally realizes that Gerde was in love with Wolfgang and probably wasn’t jumping into the sack with Gabe, so she goes to pick some flowers to make it all better.  It’s a long flower-picking scene.  It’s a very, very long flower-picking scene.  I would not have been surprised if “1-800-FLOWERS1-800-FLOWERS” appeared as the sponsor for this scene.

Because flowers makes everything better, the second Grace dumps them on Wolfgang’s tomb, all is forgiven. Gerde finally hands over the keys to Gabe’s car.  ABOUT TIME.  Should have shoved some tulips in your face two days ago.  Man I’m so tired of this village.

a7With the freedom of a car, Grace makes a beeline to… a Ludwig II museum.  Gabe, who wants to see that stuffy fart when we can look at paintings of an even stuffier old dead fart?  The whole Ludwig connection is starting to intrigue, especially concerning the connection around the coup that ended his reign under mysterious circumstances.  A couple other details emerge from this trip to the world’s smallest museum: a painting that features the sleigh that Grace saw in her dream, the fact that Ludwig and Wagner (the music guy) were friends and there was something about a new Wagner opera, and the tidbit that Ludwig became a recluse in his later years.

To this game’s credit, it does expect the player to pay attention.  I’m kind of impressed that any scenes where one or more of the characters are speaking German are not subtitled — we’re supposed to catch the gist of what’s being said from relatable words and body language (or actually learn German, I guess).  I appreciate that.  Feels more immersive.

So knowing what the game has told me already and with no outside information, I’m going to call it.  Louis, a werewolf, bit Ludwig and made him into a werewolf as well.  But since Ludwig wanted to save his soul, he hid himself from his people so that he wouldn’t prey on them.

Posted in Guild Wars

Guild Wars 2: Mesmerized

mez1As my recent posts about Guild Wars 2 have indicated, I’ve been dabbling in a lot of alts, trying to settle down and focus on just one.  Yet for various reasons I’ve been unsatisfied with my stable.  That led me to randomly logging onto my lowbie Mesmer on Friday and subsequently having an epiphany.

Originally, I really liked the idea of playing a Mesmer before the game ever launched.  I think I had one in the beta just to run around the newbie zone, but after GW2 went live, I could never stick with one.  They seemed tailor-made for frustration, as I kept dying between occasionally killing things at a very slow rate.  When I made my current Mesmer, I couldn’t even get her through some of the same basic skill challenges that my other characters had no problems with.

I don’t know what it was on Friday, maybe a willing to experiment or that ongoing personal challenge to get out of my comfort bubble, but I forced myself to spend an evening really investigating what I had here.  I played around with different weapon combos and found that the sword was actually great, visceral fun.  I started killing things quicker, and when I logged out I spent over an hour reading up on Mesmer guides.  I guess I kind of “got” what this class was about and became intrigued at the possibilities.

Temporary pets and messing with the enemy?  I can get behind that.  I started to ignore the whole clones/shatter angle and focused more on my phantasms, quickly swapping between weapon sets to summon different minions.  I think I’m becoming happiest with sword/pistol and scepter/focus as my two sets, and I’m definitely becoming more of a killing machine than I was in the past.

The subsequent two days of playing her showed me that this wasn’t a brief infatuation; I think I might really have a long-term prospect with my Mesmer.  Everyone says that the class is a late bloomer, so I’m taking it easy by going through all of the lowbie zones and working up those levels.  I’m getting more comfortable with her offensive and defensive line-up, figuring out how to deal with packs vs. single mobs, and generally enjoying how cool blurry sword attacks and purple butterflies look.

I should have been keeping up on her armor repair, however.  I was in the middle of a personal story instance when her chest armor just broke, leaving me to fight in my bright yellow flower bra.  Maybe it helped distract the enemy, I don’t know, but I didn’t want to leave to repair since it would reset the entire chapter.  Then I rushed over to Queensdale to jump on the champion train to help me with a couple of daily achievements, hoping that I’d see a repair vendor along the way.  Well, that didn’t happen and I started feeling very conspicuous.  “Naked newbie here!” my character’s looks shouted.  “Please keep your eyes up here!”

One other thing that I started to fiddle with on this character was trying out tailoring.  My every desire is to make more money by selling mats because I hate being broke, but making gear does seem like a good long-term goal if you’re going for ascended stuff.  I don’t know.  Right now I’ve stopped selling my mats and will see if this is something I can get behind.

I did splurge on a new killer whale Quaggan backpack, because I was not previously aware that there were cool cosmetic backpack skins in the trading post.  Another thing I only discovered this past weekend?  That the little red bars (or absence thereof) under the skill buttons indicate whether you’re in range to use that skill or not.  Always learning, I am.


Posted in Nostalgia Lane

Gabriel Knight 2: Men Who Sit In Chairs And Talk A Lot

(This is part of my journey playing through Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)

e1We’re back for another episode of Men Who Sit In Chairs And Talk A Lot.  On last week’s show, we chatted with Von Glower and his barely restrained primal urges, and this week we’re on to Von Zell, the aggressive tool.  He used to be a close friend with Von Glower but there’s some coldness and tension between the two now.  He’s really short with Gabe, but I can’t help but think that he’s spot-on about seeing through Gabe’s pretenses here — he identifies that Gabe is here on flimsy pretexes and is prying too much.

When asked about the basement trophies — which came from lands obviously far from Germany — Von Zell has a total snit fit and storms off.  Fun to see grown men acting like that!

e2This screen is the bane of my existence in Gabriel Knight 2.  It’s a long street that you have to cross repeatedly, and each time it just slooooowly scrolls as Gabe walks left or right.  I’m not a fan.

e3He wants YOU… to sit down in the chair and talk for a while.  Of course.  Wouldn’t want any action to interrupt all of the chair-sitting and chit-chatting that infests this game.  Gabriel has spent more time on his butt faffing about with various locals than he has boxing werewolves or having swan dreams.  C’mon already!

The police commissar is antagonistic because, let’s face it, Gabe is a smarmy jerk, but he agrees to answer a few questions about the case.  The guy says that there has been five killing so far, all in broad daylight and involving body parts strewn about.  So I guess that nice and neat chalk outline in the previous crime scene was there as decoration?  Or did someone reassemble the body?  Anyway, he thinks the culprit is a pet that’s being taken back to someone’s home.

Asking him about the Black Wolf actually triggers a reveal — the commissar remembers an old case from 1989 were a young girl disappeared and a witness said that she was attacked by a big black wolf.

I didn’t notice this until now, but there’s a handy “hint” button that suddenly appeared that shows which subway stops have tasks to complete to finish out the chapter.  Back to Huber farm for me!

e4Another day, another letter to Grace, another shot of Gabe’s tongue slathering up that envelope.  Again, why do they keep writing letters?  He could just call her on that modern telephone over there, since he knows she’s in the castle.  Heck, he could probably stick his head out of the window and yell to her.

Gabe calls a number that he copied down from the police station and finds out that the murdered guy knew one of the members of the hunting lodge.  He then reads through that werewolf book Grace sent him and I see that there’s a paragraph mentioning something happening in Brazil.  Like the mask, Gabe.  Like the… forget it.  It feels as though I know pretty much the entire plot of this game right now and am just waiting for Gabe to catch up.  The hunting lodge a werewolf den.  Von Glower is the Black Wolf and the alpha wolf of the pack.  The zoo guy probably let out the two wolves to cover for the killings.  Von Jerkface is a rogue killer who is making a mess of things and is on the outs from the group.  Grace is nuts.  Gabe likes to smirk.  Roll end credits.

e5Back to the Men Who Sit In Chairs And Talk A Lot club, this time for a fireside chat with Preiss.  He’s oozing sinister intensity, talks about seducing women, and generally makes Gabe uncomfortable.  I’m cool with that.

e6About this time everyone files in and the room becomes a strange cross-breed between the cast of the terrorists from Die Hard and a German soap opera.  Von Zell is remarkably snippy with Von Glower when the Baron says that Gabe can go on tomorrow’s hunting trip.  Frankly, shut up Von Zell — I want to shoot something and bag me a werewolf.  This argument is brought up again a minute or two later (after I bugged Von Zell via a tape recorder in a magazine because I am just that good) and the twit storms off.  He likes to storm off.  It’s becoming endearing.

e7Gabe returns to the farm for the night and finds a dead, mutilated rabbit (I think) outside the door.  A first-person POV shot — in Predator-cam, no less — shows a beast watching him.  The talisman that Gabe wears but is never seen except when it is convenient shields him from attack, however.

And that’s the end of chapter three!

Posted in General

The right to bear arms in an MMO

photon0I’ll start with an aside thought: No MMOs nor the characters inside of them seem at all concerned that the entire player population is running around armed and freely shooting anything other than the townsfolk.  No weapons regulations, no hunting licenses, no sideways looks as one slams down a staff and summons hellspawn right across from the cheese shop.

Anyway, last night I was canoodling about in Guild Wars 2 (which, oddly enough, has become my haunt as of late as I wait for TSW’s Tokyo and LOTRO’s Update 13), trying to get myself to stick with one alt and failing miserably.  I like the idea of the Necromancer for her pets, but her weapons are so limited and lackluster and not that fun to use.  The Ranger is tons of fun, but I often lament that she  really needs the option to use a rifle in addition to bows/axes for ranged damage.  The Thief’s dual pistols are great fun to use, but I worry that it won’t be enough to carry my interest through the entire game.  It probably all circles back to the fact that the Engineer is such a perfect class for me that any alts will seem subpar in comparison.  Maybe I should just level  another Engie and how silly is that.

It made me think of how much I enjoy having a character that uses guns in games.  We don’t always get that, because most fantasy titles haven’t developed that technology despite creating architectural wonders and having potions that revive the dead.  But gunpowder and lead in a barrel?  Impossible!

The MMOs that have had them, I’m all over classes that use them.  My Hunter in WoW loved her rifle and refused to use a dirty bow, ever.  Even though the rifle wasn’t that great of a weapon in Warhammer, my Engineer stubbornly used it most of the time.  Star Trek Online had better guns than the show did, including those heavy assult machine gun things, and that actually made me like ground combat.  And with WildStar coming up, I have a decent selection of three gun/pistol/ray doohickey-using classes.  Man, I still haven’t decided on a class yet.  Trying to convince myself to do Medic as my first and leave the Engineer until later.

Why are guns in MMOs fun?  For me, it’s the combination of  getting your blows in before the enemy closes the gap, the strong visceral nature of the look and sounds, and the ease of combat that doesn’t require a lot of movement or the need to constantly stay in close range.  It accesses a part of me that’s existed from childhood, the part who is giddy to go running around saying “pew pew!” at the bad guys.  Something about using guns makes us feel cool, even if we’re dorks sprinting through laser tag with glowy lights on our chest.

Archery doesn’t have that same feel for me, even though it’s always been quite popular in RPGs and MMOs and among the Hunger Games devotees.  A whispy, quiet arrow can’t compare to the KA-POW! and smoke and flame of a rifle.  Plus, it’s harder to come up with a large variety of good-looking bows as it is to create awesome gun designs.

So give me my right to bear arms and get outta the way.  That boar is looking at me funny-like.